Surgery is kind of a big deal. Even some non-invasive procedures, such as an MRI and ultrasound, still require full anesthesia, and it’s never fun waking up from that induced slumber. Think about the last time you had to be put out, or even just made groggy, for a procedure – you sure didn’t feel like yourself for the rest of the day, did you?


how a pet feels after surgery
Pepe with his “halo”

Dogs have the same reaction to coming out of anesthesia. Every dog, like every person, is different – some will want to sleep, some want to be near their humans, some want to be left alone. Some may cry and others may seem to feel just fine. A common side-effect after surgery is not wanting to eat.


Most dogs can typically go a day or two without food without any adverse effects, so if your dog skips a meal or two, it generally doesn’t cause for great concern. After surgery especially, it’s to be expected that your dog may not want to eat his regular food.


Don’t try to feed him anything too rich for his first meal back. Like in humans, anesthesia can cause nausea, and special food like human foods or treats can upset the stomach even more (we know you love your dog, but put that bacon cheeseburger away for another time). If your dog doesn’t seem to want to eat much, try offering some rice cooked in chicken or beef broth, or a little boiled chicken. They’re bland enough that they shouldn’t upset his stomach but tasty enough to still be desirable.


dog not eatingAnother cause of inappetence in dogs after surgery could be the medications prescribed. Just like in humans, certain painkillers and antibiotics can make your dog nauseous and cause him to turn up his nose at his food. If a medication causes your dog serious discomfort, vets are usually happy to change the prescription to something that doesn’t have negative side effects.


Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of pain to change your dog’s behavior. Especially the first night after surgery, the surgical site will undoubtedly be painful, and your dog may be turned off by food simply because he is sore. This pain should lessen after a day or two, and a device like the Assisi Loop can greatly help with post-surgical pain and swelling and can promote faster healing. Learn more here.


If you’re concerned that your dog still isn’t feeling well after 24 hours, it’s always best to check in with your vet.